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It’s Thursday and I’m Crafting my Life! July’s theme is looking to our role models. Because other people have walked this path before, and we can learn from them. In the past two weeks I talked to Andrea Gregg-Aylott and Sue Sinclair. This week I’m talking to Jeanette Miller, Principal of Limelite PR, a firm that focuses on working with clients and agencies to build strong mom-focused PR strategies. She helped organize the “Harnessing the Power of Digital Mums” panel that I was on, and she works with a lot of mom bloggers. Read on to hear what Jeanette had to say.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your background?
Iâ€™m a mom of 2 girls (age 3 and 7), wife/sister/daughter and the owner of Limelite PR â€“ the only PR firm in Canada wholly focused on the mom market. Iâ€™ve been in PR for close to 15 years, with a large portion of my career’s foundation spent in the film and beauty/lifestyle industry.
How did you decide to start your own business?
I’ve spent most of my career as a contractor so I guess I’ve always had a business. I started as a PA (production assistant) for the film industry, worked in PR, promotions and sponsorships for the Vancouver Film Festival for 7 month contracts for 3 consecutive years, had a stint managing marketing and PR for a beauty company and then eventually worked full-time for Alliance Atlantis and Odeon Films as their West Coast Manager of PR & Promotions. Limelite started after I went on maternity leave from Alliance Atlantis; we moved from Vancouver to Victoria (my hometown) and I was offered two contracts (working remotely for Vancouver-based clients) when my daughter was 10 months old. After a few years as a contractor I realized that I wanted to go beyond just working solo so I launched Limelite and started hiring people to work with me.
What led you to public relations, specifically?
It’s been a long and winding path, but also an evolution that makes sense upon reflection. PR is a natural fit and I think it really found me. In high school I was the organizer and peacemaker, I went to college and studied psychology, I left Victoria to study acting (living in London, UK for a couple years), came back to Victoria to get a diploma in Applied Communications (studying radio, tv, print production), and moved back to Vancouver to pursue opportunities to apply my communications diploma and my PR career blossomed from there.
What I now see is that the skills I’ve amassed all contribute to the public relations process – event planning, understanding human behaviour, being comfortable in front of the public or on camera, media production.
What I love about PR is the opportunity to develop relationships and be creative. It is also constantly changing based on technology and individual habits so itâ€™s a challenging career that continues to pushes me to go beyond my comfort level.
You are one busy mama. How do you juggle all your different commitments?
I schedule everything but honestly, I’m also flying by the seat of my pants too. I organize everything in the house so when I go away I leave a lot of lists for my husband and we have calendars everywhere. My youngest is in daycare 4 days a week and I work most (but not all) evenings for a few hours. Weekends are family time but I have been known to bow out of going to the park so I can get a little bit of work done. I also don’t schedule a lot of activities for the girls so we can have our downtime but I’m sure that will change as their interests change.
What are the upsides, for you, of running a business?
Flexibility and the people I work with.
I am the person that stays home when the kids are sick and that alone, is priceless.
For the most part, I can choose when and how I work and who I work with, which is a nice position to be in. I surround myself with people I want to work with so that everyday is exciting and a true pleasure.
Is there anything that you wish you had known before starting out?
I honestly can’t think of anything because I’ve been very aware of the fact that finding your own work takes a lot of effort and there are lots of ups and downs.
What is the biggest challenge you face in balancing your family with everything else?
Travelling and mom guilt is currently my biggest challenge. I have had to travel more often in the past 6 months and in that time period, we are also trying to potty train our youngest. Every time I go away, she takes a giant leap backwards and of course the mom guilt kicks in. But I also know that mom guilt helps me keep things in perspective as to what’s truly important â€“ my family.
What would you like bloggers, and blog readers, to know about PR?
PR is about building relationships â€“ not about spin or hype. When someone makes the concerted effort, takes the time to listen, reflects on what’s said, and responds honestly – that is good public relations.
You work with a lot of mom entrepreneurs. From your perspective, what should other moms know about entrepreneurship before they start down that path?
Entrepreneurship requires a lot of patience and perseverance. I think we all underestimate the amount of time, energy and financial struggle we will go through in developing our own business.
I am part of a small business/entrepreneur support group and itâ€™s very common to hear, “If I donâ€™t start making more money, I may have to give this up…but I donâ€™t know what else I would do.” We all know that success won’t come overnight but behind it all, you need to decide what is truly motivating you to keep going.
No matter what business you are in, as an entrepreneur you have to do everything â€“ sales, accounting, administration, leadership/management, process building, implementation, etc. Despite the opportunity to have a flexible work schedule (for instance), running your own business is a lot more work and harder work than if you just went to an employer each day and received a guaranteed paycheque.
So make sure what you are doing is important to you. Be passionate about what you are doing but also be realistic about the amount of time and effort it will take.
Is there anything else that you would like to share about making your business and life work together?
Whatever you are doing in the moment, be it working or spending time with your kids â€“ give it 100% of your attention and energy. In the end, you will be more productive if you work when the kids arenâ€™t around and your kids will be much happier if they don’t think they are fighting for your attention while you check your Blackberry. There are definitely times when I break this rule but overall I think it’s better for all of us if we separate work life from family life.
Thanks so much for talking to me, Jeanette!
July’s Crafting my Life series is about our role models. On the last Thursday of the month, which just happens to be the 29th, I will include a link up. To participate, write a post on this month’s theme anytime in July, or track down a post you’ve written on the subject sometime in the past, and add yourself to the list. Then read everyone else’s ideas and thoughts and be inspired! Check out the link-ups from January, February and March to get a feel for how it works.